Cape Elizabeth is a leafy, genteel town near Portland that hugs the shore of Casco Bay. For visitors, it’s also a place of history and lighthouses, great cycling and shoreside parks.
People have lived in what’s now Cape Elizabeth for thousands of years. Native people came first, with Europeans appearing in the early 17th century. In 1765, Cape Elizabeth became a town. For a glimpse of those early days, stop by the Spurwink Meeting House. The austere, white clapboard church was built in 1802. Graves in its adjacent cemetery date to 1810.
Things to Do in Cape Elizabeth
A great way to explore is by bike. While short, coastal rides are especially popular, the adventurous can cruise from Portland’s historic downtown, cross the soaring Casco Bay Bridge, peddle through South Portland and on to Cape Elizabeth’s coast.
Trying to decide which Cape Elizabeth lighthouse to go and see? Tough choice. The town has a great crop, including Maine’s oldest. Portland Head Light was first lit in 1791; the original fuel was whale oil. Today, the light is automated and its keeper’s house is a museum. Just offshore from Portland Headlight sits Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, a gray, granite tower marking a dangerous jumble of rocks and shoals. In a coastal neighborhood sits the Two Lights, twin lighthouses designed to help mariners plot their courses. One twin is closed and is a private residence. The second twin, Cape Elizabeth Light, is still active. The keeper’s house is private and the lighthouse grounds are closed. Still, both lights make great subjects for photos.
The sea is the centerpiece for Cape Elizabeth’s best-known parks. Fort Williams Park,
which hosts Portland Head Light, was once a bayside Army installation. Come walk the park’s Arboretum trails, enjoy a picnic, explore the fort’s old batteries, or toss a Frisbee.
Two Lights State Park is set on a rocky shoreline and is named for the twin lighthouses nearby. This is a great place for lunch or for exploring the rocks rising from the crashing surf.
Crescent Beach State Park has one of the nicest beaches in the Portland area, a mile-long arc of sand. In addition, there are picnic areas, a snack bar and a bathhouse with cold-water showers.
Restaurants in Cape Elizabeth
For a tasty lobster roll (with six different styles to choose from!) and an iconic Maine view, head to Fort Williams and the Bite Into Maine food truck, open from April to November. Or enjoy The Lobster Shack at Two Lights with cliffside picnic tables and a cozy dining room for lobster dinners and much more. You can find plenty of good eats in Cape Elizabeth and surrounding towns, from shore dinners to graceful dining. Check out the list of area businesses below, too.
Where to Stay in Cape Elizabeth
There are plenty of places to stay in Cape Elizabeth and in the neighboring communities of South Portland, Portland and Scarborough. A favorite in the town itself is the luxurious Inn By the Sea, next to beautiful Crescent Beach. Scroll down the list of local businesses below for additional suggestions.